Runners go forth on the Fourth

Running, music and patriotism collide at the 5th Annual Firecracker4, a four-mile race through downtown Saratoga Springs that's held on the Fourth of July each year and has become part of the city's All-American Celebration.

We have 15 to 20 bands and entertainment, costume characters that run, a tremendous amount of families that run it. It's a U.S. Track and Field sanctioned course so we get a lot of very accomplished runners who come out, said Peter Goutos, race director.

The race was launched by the Streaks Running Club to help the Saratoga Springs High School track teams travel to various meets.

"They're a high caliber running group who many times have to travel to states and national competition. We were running our standard fundraisers like car washes, potluck dinners, asking for donations from people and it was just a huge investment of time for sometimes not a lot of proceeds," said Goutos. "We all had a good time but we didn't have a lot coming back."

Sponsoring a race seemed like a natural solution, said Goutos, given the club's mission and the city's atmosphere.

"Saratoga Springs is a racing community, not just horses, we have a lot of recreational and athletic runners in Saratoga as witnessed any day when you drive or walk around and see people on the streets running," said Goutos.

The club picked a holiday on purpose to make the event a bit more interesting and to hopefully attract more runners.

"We knew that would be an interesting day for folks. A lot of people come back to Saratoga and lot of people vacation here," said Goutos.

The race has grown from 150 runners that first year to 1,500 last year and Goutos said he hopes to boast 2,000 competitors this year.

The courses steps off at the Saratoga Hilton and City Center and winds south on Broadway before leading runners through downtown Saratoga Springs and concluding behind the City Center.

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